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Ancient Empires - Persia

"In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of The Lord spoken by Jeremiah, The Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and to put it in writing: "This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: "The Lord, The God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and He has appointed me to build a Temple [see Temples] for Him at Jerusalem in Judah. Anyone of his people among you - may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build The Temple of The Lord, The God of Israel, The God who is in Jerusalem." (Ezra 1:1-3)

Persian Empire Map

Of all of the human empires that affected the people of Israel, the Persians did something rather unique - they permitted the return of the people of the southern kingdom of Judah, by God's command (see above verses), 70 years after their exile by the Babylonians under King Nebuchadnezzar.

At its peak, the Persian empire reached from the India to Greece, and from the Caspian Sea to the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea. The Persians are believed to have originated in Media, which today corresponds to western Iran and southern Azerbaijan. They settled in Persia, on the eastern side of the Persian Gulf.

The Persians were Aryans, speaking one of the eastern Indo-European group of languages. Two lines developed from an early leader, Teispes, who had conquered Elam in the time of the decline of the Assyrian Empire - one line in Anzan, the other in Persia. Cyrus II, king of Anzan, united the nation, and conquered Media, Lydia, and Babylonia. His son, Cambyses, took Egypt, which was later ruled by Darius, the son of Hystaspes. Persepolis (see map) was an ancient city of Persia that served as a ceremonial capital for Darius and his successors.

From a Biblical perspective, the Persians were a link in the chain of human empires that molded Bible History - the Egyptians (see The Ancient Egyptians) from which the Exodus occurred, the Assyrians (see Ancient Empires - Assyria) who conquered the "Lost Ten Tribes," the Babylonians who conquered the southern Kingdom of Judah (see Why Babylon?), the Persians who permitted the return to Jerusalem, the Greeks (see Ancient Empires - Greece) who covered much of the time between the Old and New Testaments, and the Romans (see Ancient Empires - Rome) who covered the time of Jesus Christ and beyond (see Daniel's Statue).

Persian Kings In Bible History

Common Name B.C. Date Name In Persian Name In Bible Bible References
Cyrus 539-530 Koorush Cyrus Isaiah 45, Daniel, Ezra 1-3
Cambysses 530-521 Cambujieh Ahasruerus Ezra 4-6
Pseudo Smerdis 521 Berooyeh Doroughi Artaxerxes Ezra 4:7-23
Darius the Great 521-486 Darryoosh Darius Ezra 5,6
Xerxes 486-465 Khashayarshah Ahasurerus Esther 1-10
Artaxerxes I 464-423 Ardeshier Deraz Dast Artaxerxes Nehemiah 1 - 13, Ezra 7-10

Fact Finder: Which Persian (Mede) king conquered the Babylonian King Belshazzar after the famous "handwriting on the wall" incident?
Daniel 5:30-31


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